At The Wedding Review

Photo credit: Swarthmore Theater Department

Last Saturday, upon the invitation of a friend, I showed up punctually at 8 p.m. to see the newest production from the Swarthmore theater department: At The Wedding. The play, written by Bryna Turner and directed by Visiting Assistant Professor Jude Sandy, was Jules Kyung ’24’s honors preparation in stage management and Eva Nahass ’24 and Rose Palmieri ’24’s honors acting capstone. The play follows the main character Carlo and her encounters at her ex-girlfriend’s wedding to a man. The play explores the mesmerizing themes of love, queerness and life.

This is my second time watching a theater performance at Swarthmore and to be frank, I did not know exactly what to expect. But still, I was stunned the moment I entered the theater. Tender lights, bouquets on the sides, and soft jazz playing in the background: it was exactly what I imagined a wedding to be like. 

One interesting feature that caught my attention soon after the play started was the performer switching between multiple characters. At first, I was taken aback and slightly confused by the shifts in roles and narratives, but I quickly adapted to the format. In hindsight, I believe it showcased the amazing versatility of Palmieri to adapt to contradictory roles within such a short stretch of time. Relating to the Greek drama class I am currently taking, the method also bears an exceeding resemblance to ancient Greek tragedy staging, where two main characters take upon multiple roles with a so-called “chorus” acting as an external narrator during interludes. 

I remember reading beforehand that there would be many interactions with the audience, so I chose a seat close to the front. The audience interactions did not disappoint. From passing out food to spontaneous invitations to dance, the audience becomes part of the play, taking upon the immersive role of the “chorus.”

Other key aspects I was amazed by were the staging and lighting. The director used the space to its full extent, stretching beyond the limited square-shaped center, coupled with the frequent use of spotlights. One scene that stuck in my mind was the dialogue between Carlo and the graphic designer across the stage in between the audiences sitting on opposite sides. The scene was very vivid. The imaginative use of staging took into account the presence of audience members, thus presenting the dialogue not exactly to them but with them. Additionally, the use of spotlights separated and drew attention to the individual characters.

But apart from all the technicalities, I love the quirky jokes, the existential characterization of Carlo by Nahass, the solo by Grace McMiller ’27 on the stairwell, and the play’s reference to Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

As the wedding came to an end, I was reminded of the final scene in the critically acclaimed British comedy-drama series Fleabag, where the disillusioned protagonist eventually comes to an epiphany to redefine her relationship with love. Similarly, At The Wedding questions us to take a deeper look at our understanding of love. It challenges us to see love as a temporal composition. It asks us to look hard at what we have taken for granted from love.

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